Millennials: The more you know, the better

National Report – There is no hiding from them; they are everywhere. Millennials. You know: The young bucks. No need to be frightened by them—quite the opposite. These boys and girls, men and women, are set to become your biggest customers. So the more you know about their habits, the better.

Gallup’s 2014 Hospitality Industry Study, based on data from 13,515 adults, aged 18 and older, uncovered insights into what engages hotel customers from each generation. What’s not in doubt is that millennials have the power to reshape the travel industry through sheer volume alone.

In the hospitality industry, Gallup found that about one in five customers on average are fully engaged—with millennials at 20 percent. What’s surprising? Gallup found that when it comes to share of wallet, engaging Gen-X guests offers a much stronger ROI. Though Gen Xers are outnumbered by millennials, they outspend them, on average $538 at the hotel they visited most frequently during the last 12 months versus $351 for millennials.

So, what’s the best way to engage millennials? Here’s something you might not have expected: While recommendations from friends have a strong influence on baby boomers and Gen Xers, according to Gallup, it’s online guest reviews that have the most impact on millennials. That’s right: Complete strangers can make or break your hotel’s ability to garner a millennial booking. What that also means is you should pay attention to online reviews, respond as needed and, above all, remember that each guest that walks through your front door is a marketing mouthpiece. It’s why great customer service is a make or break.

Next, examine the design of your hotel, along with the services and amenities. As the Gallup study suggests, things like in-room bars and valet parking are considered less important across all generations. And, unlike older generations, Gen Xers and millennials don’t place value on guestroom clocks and radios.